Better Automatic WordPress Updates

By 30th September 2016 April 12th, 2017 iControlWP: Manage WordPress Better, News, WordPress Security

Automatic updates have been available to us in WordPress since version 3.7.

They serve us well and ensure that WordPress sites don’t get left behind on security patches.

At the time, we saw the huge benefit in this. So we gave our clients the option to tune automatic updates from within iControlWP. Yet another first for multiple WordPress management 😉

But over time we’ve seen that there are “issues” with the automatic updates system. We’ll cover some of these here and outline what we’re doing about it.

Some issues around WordPress Automatic Updates

Automatic updates are processed through the WordPress Cron. This means they happen in the background and generally don’t interfere with normal operations.

But this presents a couple of issues.

  • If the cron doesn’t run correctly, automatic updates don’t run.
    This is an issue for a lot of sites, it seems. The Cron can be problematic and narrowing down where a cron is crashing is tricky work.
  • There can be a long delay between updates released, and updates installed.
    Update detection is run through the cron, so a site relies on traffic to get regular update checking. Then, after the update has been detected, the cron must run again to process the update.  On low-traffic sites, this can cause a significant delay, over and above the delay that’s already inherent in this flow.
  • Premium plugins don’t link in their update code correctly.
    This is a little technical, but certain premium plugins haven’t tested their custom update code with the WordPress cron. This means that when the cron is run, their update code doesn’t work and automatic updates of premium assets will fail.

These are just a few of the most noticeable problems we’ve seen. We want to fix this for our clients and we’ve already rolled out an update to iControlWP to address this.

Better Automatic WordPress Updates with iControlWP

We’ve decided that we’re going to give Automatic Updates a helping hand.

All sites connected to iControlWP get sync’d automatically every couple of hours. We have now updated this process so that automatic updates that are also pushed from iControlWP.

What does this mean exactly?

If iControlWP detects an update available on your site and you’ve tuned it to update automatically, we’ll push the update for you. This update will not be updated through the WordPress cron as we’ll have interceded to get the job done quicker, and ultimately more reliably.

What do you have to do to take advantage of this?

Nothing.  It’s already done for you.  Just use our automatic updates feature to indicate which plugins you want updated automatically and we’ll do the rest.

Suggestion or Questions?

Automatic updates are funky and can cause a lot of confusion. We hope with this shift in processing that you’ll enjoy faster and more consistent automatic updates for your WordPress sites.

If you have any questions about this, please let us know below. Thanks!

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